The Hermon High School cheerleading squad likes performing under pressure and will get a chance to do so again during the state competition Saturday at the Augusta Civic Center.
Coach Kristie Reed’s Hawks will be seeking their fourth consecutive state Class B title.
The Class D competition kicks off at 10 a.m., with Class A later that morning. The Class C cheering gets underway at 2:30 p.m., and the Class B competition follows.
“We know everyone is putting 120 percent into it to compete with us,” said Hermon senior cheerleader Taylor Smith. “That’s awesome. The best part of cheering is the competition. I love to compete. We’ve been successful in the past, but you never know what’s going to happen. You have different judges and different routines.
“There is going to be pressure on us, but it’s going to be good pressure. It’ll make us work a little harder. We don’t want to let anyone down,” added Smith.
Coach Lynette Morency’s youthful Lewiston High School Blue Devils, with just eight seniors and juniors among its 22 cheerleaders, will also seek its fourth consecutive state title in Class A.
Dexter is the defending state Class C titlist and Deer Isle-Stonington won the D crown in 2013.
However, Dexter finished a distant sixth in the Eastern Maine championships, 24.7 points behind regional winner Central of Corinth, and Deer-Isle Stonington was sixth in the D regional competition among the eight D schools across the state, with Central Aroostook of Mars Hill claiming the regional.
The Mariners finished 31.8 points behind Central Aroostook from Mars Hill, which won five straight state championships until Deer Isle-Stonington triumphed last season.
Lewiston and Hermon won their respective regionals, with Biddeford and Medomak Valley of Waldoboro annexing the Western A and B regionals, respectively. Madison was the C West winner.
The Hawks have a young team with just three seniors, and two of them have freshman sisters on the team. Morgan Smith is Taylor’s younger sister, and Ashley Turner is the freshman sister of Kaitlinn Turner. There is a third set of sisters as junior Sarah Perley has been joined by freshman sister Emily.
“The most I have ever had is one set of sisters,” said Reed, who included her nine years as the cheering coach at Brewer along with her five seasons at Hermon.
“It’s unique. But they all get along for the most part,” said Reed.
“It’s a cool experience,” said Smith, who added that it would be “very neat” to share a state championship with her sister.
The three seniors, including Alivia Brown, have supplied the team with outstanding leadership, according to Reed.
“They have truly led this team, and they have strived not to be bossy. They have led by example, and they have been consistent,” said Reed.
“We’ve tried really hard to support the underclassmen,” said Taylor Smith. “We’ve worked real hard. We have a lot of young girls, but they’re very bright, and they know a lot about cheering.
“We have all grown as a team on and off the floor,” she added. “We’ve all grown very close as a team.”
She said their constant improvement over the course of the season has been noticeable.
“After the season, we’ll watch a video of ourselves during the first couple of days, and we’ll laugh at ourselves,” said Smith.
Reed said one of the important developments on the team has been the evolution of junior Tiffany Tanner, who has become a flyer after spending the first two years lifting her teammates during the performances.
“She has been very valuable as a flyer,” said Reed.
Smith said Reed has been another primary reason behind their success.
“Coach Reed is incredible. She’s all you could ask for. She pushes us, and she definitely knows what she’s doing. And you can always talk to her. She’s very open with us. She’s a definite asset to our team as is [assistant coach] Christina Paradis.”